We are all familiar with the large scale solar projects sweeping developed countries, producing Megawatts, if not Gigawatts of solar electricity. But what about the 1.4 billion people without access to electricity? According to an interview in the New York Times with Michael Eckhart, the President of the American Council on Renewable Energy, Just 1 percent of the world’s solar panel production has been installed in developing countries.
We are starting to see this trend change though. Small, developing island nations, such as Vanuatu, are starting to look into new solutions to solve the ongoing problem of having to rely on diesel or kerosene to supply their basic power needs. Of the 65 inhabited islands of Vanuatu, only two main towns have power supplied through a mainstream electricity grid (Energy Unit, 2008). About 80% of all of the population of Vanuatu live in rural villages without access to electricity.
During my visit to Vanuatu last month, I witnessed remote villages on Efate Island taking advantage of solar technology. Solar can be the ideal solution for providing power to remote areas where mainstream electricity production and distribution is either unfeasible or much too costly. With only one or two solar panels provided to a majority of huts in Epau Village (above right), residents are now able to turn on a light or run a television.
The specific project for Epau Village, pictured above, was made possible because of funding provided from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) through a program known as Solar Home System (SHS) for rural-electrification. Epau village won one of four pilot projects organised and funded by JICA on Efate Island.
Written by Justine O’Neill
Residential Sales Manager
© 2011 Solar Choice Pty Ltd